Unlocking local potential
Atmos Totnes is the first project to be led by Totnes Community Development Society. It is community-led development project which is proposed for a derelict industrial site (the Dairy Crest site next to Totnes rail station) for homes and businesses in Totnes. Plans show 99 homes (62 of which will be genuinely affordable for the community and 37 will be for older people), and enterprise and work space providing employment for at the very least 160 people plus services and amenities to support the Atmos Totnes and the community of Totnes. A new route to planning is being used – the Community Right to Build Order. In preparing for this route over there were over 4,500 meaningful contributions into the design process from the community and a professional design team has supported in meeting the design needs within the substantial constraints of the site itself.
Community Right to Build Order
Atmos Totnes will, so far as we know, be one of the first Community Right to Build Order processes to be run in England. The Community Right to Build came into force on 6th April 2012 and forms part of the Neighbourhood Planning (General) Regulations contained within the Localism Act 2011.
In essence the Community Right to Build requires a number of formal stages as follows:
Step 1: Establishing community support The Community Right to Build allows communities to decide for themselves whether they would like to develop new homes, shops, or businesses in their area. The first step towards utilising the Community Right to Build is to establish what people want to see in the area and establish a support base for any specific proposals.
Step 2: Getting started In order to use the Community Right to Build, you must have a properly constituted community organisation. TDCS is registered with the FCA as an Industrial and Provident Society for the benefit of the community and as such meet this requirement.
Step 3: Defining the neighbourhood area The Community Right to Build is part of the ‘Neighbourhood Planning framework’. This means that Community Right to Build schemes must be within a defined neighbourhood area which has to be agreed with the Local Planning Authority. Totnes Town Council have a designation for the area.
Step 4: Developing a business case
Step 5: Preparing a Community Right to Build Order Before making an application to the Local Planning Authority for approval of a Community Right to Build Order, the community organisation must also carry out certain publicity and consultation to ensure everyone in the community and certain specialist bodies have the chance to comment on the proposals. The onus is on the community group to carry this work out.
Step 6: Submitting a Community Right to Build Order After the Community Right to Build Order has been drawn up, it must be approved by an independent examiner to ensure that it meets certain standards. Once it meets the independent examiner’s approval, the Order is passed on to the local authority to be put to a local referendum so people can vote on whether they want the development to go ahead.
Step 7: The Referendum The local council is required to organise a referendum, open to all registered voters in the defined neighbourhood area. In some cases, it may be opened to a wider area if there are broader implications of the development being approved. If the referendum receives the support of over 50% of those voting, then the Community Right to Build Order is passed and the council must grant planning permission.
Unique Partnership with McCarthy and Stone and Dairy Crest
Totnes Community Development Society are proud to be developing plans for Atmos Totnes in partnership with mainstream developer McCarthy & Stone and with the site’s owner Dairy Crest plc. This kind of partnership working is one of the aspects of Atmos Totnes which has the potential to spread the project’s innovative influence far afield. Because the Atmos Totnes site is being developed through a master planning exercise with McCarthy and Stone there are effectively three architects helping to realise the design on this site to meet the needs identified by this community.
The community consultation for Atmos Totnes has been led by Encounters Arts, who specialise in designing participatory arts projects and interventions that inspire creativity, dialogue and exchange between people of all ages and cultures.
“Inspirational stuff. So exciting to see something incredible happening here that really reflects the community thinking. Very creative way of engaging me thank-you.” – Visitor at the Atmos Totnes Hub.